Marvin Hamlisch, whose distinctive music style earned Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize over his career for such hits as A Chorus Line, and songs “Life Is What You Make It” and “The Way We Were,” has died. He was 68.
Hamlisch died Monday (Aug. 5) in Los Angeles after a brief illness, said Jason Lee, a spokesman for the family. No other details about his death have been released.
Hamlisch, by all accounts was a musical genius. He could pick up songs off the radio by the time he was five years old, and was accepted what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division for musically gifted children by the time he was seven. It paved the way for illustrious career that spanned all forms of entertainment.
He grew up listening to musicals like My Fair Lady, Gypsy, West Side Story and Bye Bye Birdie. His first gig was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Producer Sam Spiegel also hired him to play piano at his parties.
Hamlisch parlayed the connection to write his first film score for the 1968 film, “The Swimmer,” directed by Frank Perry and starring Burt Lancaster, Janet Landgard and Janice Rule. Many more were to follow.
He earned Oscars for his scoring, and writing the title song for, the movie “The Way We Were” and earned another Oscar for his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for the movie, “The Sting.”
His first musical hit was the song, “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows.” He wrote it for pop singer Lesley Gore. She was nominated for a Grammy for the song, which reached No. 13 on the pop charts.
“What a loss. What a talent. What contributions… #rip” tweeted Debra Messing.
“The angels have beautiful melodies to sing now.” wrote Diane Warren.